Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

By 5-to-1 Public Thinks Most Journalists Trying to Elect Obama --9/11/2008


1. By 5-to-1 Public Thinks Most Journalists Trying to Elect Obama
A week after a Rasmussen Reports survey discovered that by a ten-to-one margin the public believes the media are trying to hurt Sarah Palin, a new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters, briefly highlighted Wednesday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, determined "69 percent remain convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Barack Obama." Specifically, "50 percent of voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama win versus 11 percent who believe they are trying to help his Republican opponent John McCain" with 26 percent saying "reporters offer unbiased coverage." Even amongst Democrats, more think journalists are aiding Democrat Obama than Republican McCain: "While 83 percent of Republican voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama, 19 percent of Democrats agree, one percentage point higher than the number of Democrats who believe they are trying to help McCain." Most telling, "unaffiliated voters by a 53 percent to 10 percent margin see reporters trying to help Obama."

2. Matthews: Obama's 'Pig' Not Sexist, 'Community Organizer' Racist
Chris Matthews spent the entirety of Wednesday night's Hardball debunking the idea that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin, when he made his "lipstick on a pig" remark, as the MSNBC host questioned if it "insults...everyone's intelligence?" However did Matthews insult his viewers' intelligence, on Monday, when he accused Palin and Rudy Giuliani of using coded racist language when they joked about Obama's experience as a "community organizer?"

3. CNN Labels Palin's Environmental Stances 'Outside the Mainstream'
Two segments on Tuesday's Election Center program, which were promoted by host Campbell Brown as having "no bias, no bull," actually tried to paint Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin as having a "very extreme" and "outside-the-mainstream" viewpoint on environmental issues, since on the issue of global warming, she's "not one...who would attribute it to being man-made." Brown herself suggested during the second segment that the debate over the cause of global warming was already over.

4. 'Non-Partisan' Liberal Group's Critique of Palin Cited by CNN
CNN's Jessica Yellin filed a report from Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday's American Morning which cited a "non-partisan" organization whose official policy stance includes a pro-abortion position, and whose president used to work for NARAL. She also included a soundbite from a Palin critic who donated hundreds of dollars to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Yellin's report examined how the Alaska Governor balances her government work with her family life. She included soundbites from Meg Stapleton, a former aide to Palin who was labeled on-screen as a "Palin campaign advisor" and Kristan Cole, a childhood friend of the Governor. After a positive and short depiction of Palin's life, Yellin cited how "Palin supporters insist her experience as a working mother means she'll represent American women." The CNN correspondent then went to the critics of the Governor's record: "But some women's groups are critical. The non-partisan National Partnership for Women and Families gives Alaska a D-minus when it comes to its parental leave policy. For example, there's no guarantee of paid leave for new parents."

5. ABC's Brian Ross Highlights Angry Librarians Opposed to Palin
Wednesday's Good Morning America featured a one-sided segment on whether Sarah Palin, as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to have some books banned from the town's library. Despite the fact that no one featured in the segment could cite a specific book, co-host Robin Roberts labeled the event "a battle that brought her toe-to-toe with a local librarian over which books were appropriate and which were not, something her critics say crossed the line into censorship." Investigative reporter Brian Ross also intoned that there are "members of the Alaska Library Association who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin." The Ross report featured several critics, but no clips or on camera explanations by the McCain/Palin campaign. Instead, the piece focused on the 1996 uproar over certain controversial books in the Wasilla library. Then-Mayor Palin asked librarian Mary Ellen Edmonds what the process would be for removing books. The librarian was ultimately fired. However, Ross explained toward the end of the piece: "In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves."

6. MSNBC Hosts Mock and Distort Prayer Request by Sarah Palin
Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on comments the Alaska Governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June. On the first episode of her new television program, the Rachel Maddow Show, the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska Governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan." Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."

7. CBS Highlights Dem's Anti-Palin Plea: 'We've Got to Go After Her'
While, like the rest of the media establishment, CBS's Early Show seemed to conclude that Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" crack from the day before was nothing but a harmless comment, reporter Bill Plante put the swipe in the context of Democrats' desperation to find some way to undermine the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Unlike his competitors at ABC and NBC, Plante on Wednesday highlighted how Newsweek's Howard Fineman quoted an unnamed "top Democratic strategist" as arguing about Palin: "We've got to go after her, and fast." And Plante quoted from the blog WomenCount.org, which vowed to "work to stamp out sexism where we see it on the campaign trail."

8. NYT's Herbert: "Arch-Conservative" Clarence Thomas' "Self-Hatred"
Comparatively mild-mannered columnist Bob Herbert lets the mask slip: "Self-hatred is a terrible thing. Just ask that arch-conservative Clarence Thomas." What's gotten into the Times' normally mild-mannered, paleo-liberal columnist Bob Herbert? The former NBC News reporter doesn't usually get too hyperbolic in his twice-weekly columns, which is why TimesWatch more often cites the spikier leftist columnists like Paul Krugman and Frank Rich -- plus Herbert's soporofic style makes one reluctant to read on. But Herbert sounded more than a little peeved in his spirited Tuesday column in defense of paleo-liberalism, "Hold Your Heads Up," arguing that liberalism not only is responsible for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and other non-white males having the ability to run for President, but for civil rights, women's rights, clean water...all manner of good things. Fair commentary, if utterly simplistic -- but Herbert overstepped by calling the right wing "troglodytes" and did so in starkly personal terms in his conclusion, sliming conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a "self-hater," playing into the racial stereotype that one must be a Democrat to be truly black.

9. Couric Uses Sex Scandal to Show Bush Admin 'Close' to Big Oil
CBS's Katie Couric on Wednesday night used an Interior Department sex and drug scandal to snidely frame a story around how "the Bush administration has long been accused of having too close a relationship with the oil industry. Just how close is documented in new reports just out today." The ABC and NBC evening newscasts also ran full stories on three new reports from the Interior Department's inspector general about the staffers of the Minerals Management Service, mostly in Colorado, but refrained from the overtly political characterization. Turning to reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Couric opined: "This sounds pretty embarrassing." Attkisson agreed as she immediately brought President Bush into the story: "It is, Katie. The investigative reports were released a day after President Bush had a private lunch with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the man in charge of the agency at the heart of the scandal. That was behind closed doors. Today's embarrassment was very public."


Media Appearance. Early readers: MRC President Brent Bozell will be on FNC's Fox & Friends at about 7:05 AM EDT Thursday morning to discuss media bias in campaign coverage (that's 6:05 AM CDT, 5:05 AM MDT, 4:05 AM PDT and 3:05 AM in Alaska where Sarah Palin and Charles Gibson are now located.

By 5-to-1 Public Thinks Most Journalists
Trying to Elect Obama

A week after a Rasmussen Reports survey discovered that by a ten-to-one margin the public believes the media are trying to hurt Sarah Palin, a new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters, briefly highlighted Wednesday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, determined "69 percent remain convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Barack Obama." Specifically, "50 percent of voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama win versus 11 percent who believe they are trying to help his Republican opponent John McCain" with 26 percent saying "reporters offer unbiased coverage."

Even amongst Democrats, more think journalists are aiding Democrat Obama than Republican McCain: "While 83 percent of Republican voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama, 19 percent of Democrats agree, one percentage point higher than the number of Democrats who believe they are trying to help McCain." Most telling, "unaffiliated voters by a 53 percent to 10 percent margin see reporters trying to help Obama."

Matching the overall public perception of a pro-Obama media, "45 percent of Democrats say most reporters are providing unbiased coverage in the current presidential campaign, but only 20 percent of unaffiliateds and nine percent (9%) of Republicans agree."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For Rasmussen's full summary of the poll taken on September 8 and released on September 10, see: "69% Say Reporters Try to Help the Candidate They Want to Win," at: www.rasmussenreports.com

An excerpt with other findings:

....Voters from both parties...are skeptical of media bias in general. Eighty-six percent (86%) of Republicans think reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and a plurality of Democrats (49%) believe that, too. Seventy-four percent (74%) of unaffiliated voters agree.

Only 21% of voters overall say reporters try to offer unbiased coverage....

Among all voters, 57% believe Obama has received the best treatment by the media, while 21% say McCain has been treated best. Only nine percent (9%) believe the media has been most favorable to Senator Hillary Clinton, who was Obama's closest rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Forty-two percent (42%) think reporters would hide information that hurts the candidate they want to win, but 34% do not agree. But there's a partisan divide here: While 63% of likely McCain voters believe reporters would hide information harmful to the candidate they favor, 52% of potential Obama voters do not agree....

END of Excerpt

The new Rasmussen survey echoes two other recent polls, one by Rasmussen and one by Fox News. The September 5 CyberAlert item, "Poll: By 10-to-1 Public Says Reporters 'Trying to Hurt Palin,'" recounted:

"Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage, and 24% say those stories make them more likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in November," Rasmussen Reports announced Thursday in posting survey results which determined "just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage, while 35 percent believe reporters are providing unbiased coverage." In Thursday's "Grapevine" segment, FNC's Brit Hume highlighted the findings from the poll of 1,000 "likely voters."

By wide margins, more Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters see the media as trying to hurt rather than trying to help Palin. For Republicans it's 80 to 6 percent, for Democrats 28 to 4 percent (with 57 percent believing reporting is unbiased) and for unaffiliated voters it's 49 to 5 percent.

For more: www.mrc.org

And the July 25 CyberAlert posting, "Fox Poll: Two-Thirds Recognize Journalists Want Obama to Win," reported:

Just days after a Rasmussen Reports survey was released showing more than three times as many likely voters "believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage" than help John McCain, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken July 22-23 of 900 registered voters discovered six times as many think "most member of the media" want Obama to win than wish for a McCain victory. On Thursday's Special Report, FNC's Brit Hume relayed: "67 percent of the respondents think most media members want Obama to win. Just 11 percent think most in the media are for McCain."

A FoxNews.com article added this damning finding: "Only about 1 in 10 (11 percent) volunteers the belief that the media is neutral on the race to become the 44th President of the United States." Those polled recognize the tilt in action: "When asked to rate the objectivity of media coverage of the campaigns, Americans feel Obama gets more of a positive spin by a better than 7-to-1 margin (46 percent more positive toward Obama; 6 percent more positive toward McCain)."

For more: www.mediaresearch.org

The "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's "Media Bias Basics" lists many more surveys of how the public perceive journalists and the news media: www.mediaresearch.org

Matthews: Obama's 'Pig' Not Sexist, 'Community
Organizer' Racist

Chris Matthews spent the entirety of Wednesday night's Hardball debunking the idea that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin, when he made his "lipstick on a pig" remark, as the MSNBC host questioned if it "insults...everyone's intelligence?" However did Matthews insult his viewers' intelligence, on Monday, when he accused Palin and Rudy Giuliani of using coded racist language when they joked about Obama's experience as a "community organizer?"

At the top of Wednesday's show, Matthews invited on Republican strategist John Feehry and Democratic strategist Jenny Backus to discuss the topic, and hit Feehry hard, as he admitted to Backus: "I'm doing your job," and dismissed the "lipstick" controversy: "This is like Seinfeld, this is about nothing."

But on Monday's show Matthews tried to make a big deal out of "nothing," when he saw racism in Palin and Giuliani using the words "community organizer." Matthews charged: "Rudy Giuliani got the biggest giggle out of that. And then, of course, Sarah, Sarah Palin did. They're giggling over the community organizer role as if it's, has, it carries more freight than just a job you once had. Is this the new 'welfare queen?' Is this a new symbol, that we're talking about here?...Do you it has an ethnic piece, an urban piece even?"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following exchanges occurred on the September 10 Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You believe he was referring to Sarah Palin?
JOHN FEEHRY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I think, I don't know
JENNY BACKUS. DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I, I just don't-
MATTHEWS: No, just a minute let's get, because if it's not. Just a minute, okay. [To Backus] I'm doing your job for a second here, just then you can take over. I'm just trying to get straight what we're talking about here because if John McCain isn't accusing his rival of calling his running mate a pig, then we shouldn't be talking about this. If he didn't, if he didn't call her but we're seeing a commercial that says, "Barack Obama on Sarah Palin," put out with the money of John McCain's campaign. So he's not endorsing his campaign ad. Yes or no? Is he endorsing that message or not?
FEEHRY: I have no idea I mean.
MATTHEWS: Well he is, we just saw it. He paid for it.
FEEHRY: Well, paid for it, listen.
MATTHEWS: Okay well then John McCain is saying that his opponent, Barack Obama, has called, in fact, his running mate a pig!
FEEHRY: No I think, I think that what-
MATTHEWS: It said, "Barack Obama on Sarah Palin," right there. I'm not gonna say it again. But you can respond, you can respond.
FEEHRY: I think what, what the issue-
MATTHEWS: The audience, by the way, is watching. They know what's being said in that commercial. We'll play it again. But I think it's enough for them, they've heard it.
FEEHRY: Well let me, let me just say that, I think that the, the fact of the matter is that you have to be very careful what you say in this campaign. I think everyone agrees you have to be careful. And I'd like to, frankly I would like to get back on, on the big issues.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. You're saying, no, because you're not gonna get back because this is all over the place. Let's take a look at the number of times McCain used the phrase, "Lipstick on a pig," fairly recently.
FEEHRY: Sure.
MATTHEWS: In October of '07 he used it in terms of Hillary Clinton's health care plan. In February 1st, a couple of times, February 1st last year, he used it in terms of the Iraq war. John Boehner, you used to work with, one of the top Republicans, in fact he's the leader of the Republican Party in the House right now.
FEEHRY: Sure.
MATTHEWS: He used the phrase in April of this year. In April of '05 Senator John Kyl of Arizona used the same phrase. Rod Grams, the former senator from Minnesota used the same phrase. Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania used the same phrase. John Ensign, who was just on the show recently, he used the phrase last year. This is a phrase commonly used by Republican politicians but you say when Barack Obama uses it he's talking about Governor Palin. I just want to know what's your standard of proof? If you're in a courtroom right now could you convict him of calling Governor Palin a pig?
FEEHRY: I couldn't, I wouldn't even try. I wouldn't even try.
MATTHEWS: Well then why are you suggesting that's what he meant?
FEEHRY: I didn't say, I didn't say that.
MATTHEWS: Want to run this commercial again?
FEEHRY: No what I said was that you have to be careful in this campaign and people inside the room thought-
MATTHEWS: What are you guys giving us etiquette rules? Let me tell you something! Let me just show this to you. This is Torie Clark, who's the press secretary for guess who? John McCain.
FEEHRY: Right.
MATTHEWS: She wrote how you use the phrase, "lipstick on a pig," in her book of that title.
FEEHRY: Right.
MATTHEWS: She's teaching people how to use the phrase and what it means. Here's what she says. "Spin has become increasingly vulnerable as information sources have proliferated. Spin is simply no longer viable, or put another way, you can't, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig." She's saying it's a standard usage phrase for cutting through spin. Exactly the way Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate used it. Your witness Jenny.
BACKUS: Well the other thing that I wanted-
MATTHEWS: I made my point which I think is the Republicans use this phrase relentlessly, all their leaders use it. John McCain uses it. His former press secretary wrote a book entitled, "Lipstick on a pig," explaining how to use it to cut through spin. John you're allowed to say "uncle" on this show. You're allowed to come on and say, "My party, in this case, is full of bunk." You're allowed to do that. I give you time to think about that. Your thoughts Jenny.

...

MATTHEWS: This is like Seinfeld, this is about nothing.

...

MATTHEWS: Coming up later on "Hardball," will women buy the McCain campaign's accusations that Barack Obama was making a sexist comment about Governor Palin? Or will they feel it insults their intelligence? By the way, perhaps everyone's intelligence. "Hardball," returns after this.

To read about Matthews seeing racism in attacks by Palin and Giuliani on Obama, check the September 10 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

CNN Labels Palin's Environmental Stances
'Outside the Mainstream'

Two segments on Tuesday's Election Center program, which were promoted by host Campbell Brown as having "no bias, no bull," actually tried to paint Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin as having a "very extreme" and "outside-the-mainstream" viewpoint on environmental issues, since on the issue of global warming, she's "not one...who would attribute it to being man-made." Brown herself suggested during the second segment that the debate over the cause of global warming was already over.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For Palin's full statement on global warming, see NewsMax.com's August 29 interview, "Palin Speaks to Newsmax About McCain, Abortion" at: www.newsmax.com

Correspondent Randi Kaye interviewed University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner during the first segment, a report on Palin's environmental record. She asked, "In a word, if you can sum up Sarah Palin's record on the environment here, what would it be?" Steiner answered, "Abysmal." Anderson Cooper's blog on CNN.com republished the professor's September 7 editorial from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which he railed against Governor Palin: "In addition to her frightening lack of qualification to be vice president (much less president) of the United States, Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice, pro-gun, right-wing conservative who wants creationism taught in schools." When a shorter version of her report aired on Wednesday's The Situation Room, Kaye added that Steiner "says he's not a Republican or a Democrat." Despite this clarification, it is clear from his editorial that Steiner is a liberal.

For Steiner's full editorial against Palin, see "Sarah Palin's abysmal environmental record" on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 blog: ac360.blogs.cnn.com

After a commercial break which followed Kaye's segment, Brown moderated a panel discussion with CNN's Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin, as well as Republican strategist Bay Buchanan, about Palin's record on the environment. Brown first mentioned that "[h]er [Palin's] view is that global warming is not man-made." Toobin, who sarcastically remarked in May that acknowledging man-made global warming is "like acknowledging gravity -- it is a scientific fact," took no time in criticizing this stance by the Alaska governor: "It's a very extreme view.... But the view of global warming [Palin's] reflects an extreme outside-the-mainstream view that John McCain doesn't share, and frankly, no respectable scientist shares."

For more on Toobin's statement that man-made global warming is "like acknowledging gravity -- it is a scientific fact," see the May 14 CyberAlert item, "Toobin: McCain on Global Warming 'Like Acknowledging Gravity'" at: www.mrc.org

Brown then turned to Buchanan and remarked that "the debate over global warming did seem to come to an end, though. You even had Bush coming around on that over the last year." Buchanan argued that "there's many scientists that suggest there is no evidence whatsoever that it's related to anything man has done," and stuck to this position through the remainder of the discussion. The host later repeated this sentiment at the end of the segment: "I don't want to re-debate global warming. To me, that issue is dead and pretty much decided."

The transcript of the panel discussion, which began 55 minutes into the 8pm EDT hour of CNN's Election Center program:

CAMPBELL BROWN: We want to talk about -- more about Sarah Palin's views on many of these issues. For some, they are heavenly -- for others, very much to the extreme. I've got the political panel back with me now -- Jeff Toobin, Roland Martin, and Bay Buchanan. And, Jeff, you saw the pieces we just aired -- Randi Kaye's pieces from Alaska, listening to her father. But on environmental issues in particular, one of the positions that's getting a lot of scrutiny is global warming. Her view is that global warming is not man-made. Now, that is different from what John McCain believes and different from even President Bush, who's come around in this issue.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: It's a very extreme view. Look, her views about getting oil out of Alaska are not extreme. Everybody in Alaska -- Democrats and Republicans, they're pro-exploring in the wilderness. But the view of global warming reflects an extreme outside-the-mainstream view that John McCain doesn't share, and frankly, no respectable scientist shares.
BROWN: And, Bay-
BAY BUCHANAN: Yeah.
BROWN: I mean, the debate over global warming did seem to come to an end, though. You even had Bush coming around on that over the last year.
BUCHANAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BROWN: Is that not fair?
BUCHANAN: It's completely ridiculous. Jeff's got to get outside the East Coast a little bit, read some more scientists. There's all kinds -- I think, there's many scientists that suggest there is no evidence whatsoever that it's related to anything man has done. That it's just a course of nature itself, but one or the other that's the key.
BROWN: But, Bay, John McCain disagrees. George Bush now disagrees with you.
BUCHANAN: I don't care. I don't care. The scientists who are out there are very clear about this. This issue is not resolved and goes-
BROWN: Okay. I leave it-
ROLAND MARTIN: Hey, Bay -- Bay-
BUCHANAN: There's nothing extreme.
MARTIN: Hey, Bay, you also got the people out there who don't think I'm black enough. Look, you can find any scientist who can -- who will have the opposite opinion. The reality is, she, again, as Jeff has talked about -- when you have McCain with his position, Obama and Biden and Bush, yes, she's in a different corner. But, again, where this goes to, Campbell, is when you don't answer the questions yourselves, you're allowing others to define your position. That's the danger in allowing other people to speak for you.
BUCHANAN: We know where she stands. We know exactly. She's very up-front about it. You just reported where she stands.
MARTIN: Yeah, she doesn't think it's man-made.
BROWN: Let me bring it to a different perspective here, because the McCain campaign itself had said that this election is not necessarily going to turn on the issues, but rather how people feel about the candidates, their character, their personalities. So, Bay, to what extent are -- is the McCain campaign celebrating her -- you know, these images of her hunting and being very much of the Western, you know, sort of-
MARTIN: They love it.
BUCHANAN: And, of course, the fact that she is a hunter and she owned a fleet, a fishing fleet -- I mean, she's obviously extremely concerned about the environment. The fact that she's so popular in Alaska, which is very concerned about environment, shows she's there with them. She's mainstream. The hunters and the fishermen in Iowa -- I mean, Ohio and Michigan and out there, Pennsylvania -- she is going to take care of them.
MARTIN: Okay. Answer the question.
BROWN: You have to see it from a purely political point of view, though, these images are effective, are they not?
TOOBIN: They are. But, you know, it's not our job to evaluate the effectiveness of images. The images are great, but if we're going to try to evaluate what people stands on the issues are, and whether they are consistent with science, and I apologize if that's an elitist view.
BROWN: I'm with Jeff. I don't want to re-debate global warming. To me, that issue is dead and pretty much decided. But quickly, Roland, on the cultural issue.
MARTIN: Very simple. The Obama folks want to go after her on the hardcore issues. They want it to be about personality. Smart political strategy? But as Jeff say, it's not our job to go along with the gang.
BROWN: All right, guys, we got to end it there. But as always, Jeff, Roland, Bay, a great discussion. Thanks much, guys -- appreciate it.
BUCHANAN: You're welcome, Campbell.

'Non-Partisan' Liberal Group's Critique
of Palin Cited by CNN

CNN's Jessica Yellin filed a report from Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday's American Morning which cited a "non-partisan" organization whose official policy stance includes a pro-abortion position, and whose president used to work for NARAL. She also included a soundbite from a Palin critic who donated hundreds of dollars to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Yellin's report examined how the Alaska Governor balances her government work with her family life. She included soundbites from Meg Stapleton, a former aide to Palin who was labeled on-screen as a "Palin campaign advisor" and Kristan Cole, a childhood friend of the Governor. After a positive and short depiction of Palin's life, Yellin cited how "Palin supporters insist her experience as a working mother means she'll represent American women."

The CNN correspondent then went to the critics of the Governor's record: "But some women's groups are critical. The non-partisan National Partnership for Women and Families gives Alaska a D-minus when it comes to its parental leave policy. For example, there's no guarantee of paid leave for new parents." Yellin followed this with a soundbite from Dr. Vicki Lovell of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, who thought there's a contradiction there between Governor Palin's professed values about supporting families and then what we actually see in the state of Alaska, where there aren't adequate supports for families who are welcoming new infants."

[This item is a compilation of posts by Matthew Balan and Michael M. Bates, both posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

So how "nonpartisan" is the National Partnership for Women and Families? Check out its board of directors. Cheryl D. Mills's name stands out. She "gained national prominence for her defense of President Clinton during the 1999 Senate impeachment trial." Linda Bergthold is a blogger on the leftwing Huffington Post, with a recent contribution titled "The VP Choice that Lost the Presidency for McCain."

For a list of the board of directors of the National Partnership, see: www.nationalpartnership.org

For Cheryl D. Mills's biography as Senior Vice President of New York University, see: www.nyu.edu

For Linda Bergthold's at the Huffington Post, see: www.huffingtonpost.com

One of the National Partnership's professed goals is increasing "women's access to quality, confidential reproductive health services and block attempts to limit reproductive rights and reverse hard-won gains....to give every woman access to the full range of reproductive health information and services, including... abortion services." The biography of their president, Debra Ness, proudly states that she "moved to head up field operations for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), where she worked to revitalize the organization's grassroots political capability and affiliate network. She became NARAL's deputy director in 1989 and helped propel the organization's transformation into a major force in American electoral politics."

For the National Partnership for Women and Familes' stance on "reproductive health & rights," see: www.nationalpartnership.org

For National Partnership president Debra Ness's biography, see: www.nationalpartnership.org

Dr. Lovell's organization, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, also takes the pro-abortion position. In addition to this, Lovell donated a total of $900 to Hillary Clinton's campaign within the course of a week in February and March of 2008 during the Democratic primaries.

For the Institute of Women's Policy's stance on "reproductive health," see: www.iwpr.org

For a listing of Dr. Lovell's contribution to Hillary Clinton's campaign, see: www.newsmeat.com

The full transcript of Yellin's report, which began 33 minutes into the 6am EDT hour of Wednesday's American Morning:

JOHN ROBERTS: Sarah Palin returns to Alaska today, but her home coming bittersweet as her eldest son, Track, deploys for Iraq. And since Palin was nominated for vice president, her career and her personal life have been under the microscope. CNN's Jessica Yellin joins us this morning from Anchorage, Alaska. She is live with more on all of this. Good morning, Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN: Good morning, John. Here's something you might not know about Sarah Palin. She held her baby shower for her fourth child at a shooting range. Even some of her friends laugh about that. They say that she's been able to juggle motherhood and politics because she needs very little sleep.
YELLIN (voice-over): Governor Palin starts sending e-mails at 4:30 in the morning.
MEG STAPLETON, PALIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: We used to joke around that, it's as though she has an I.V. of caffeine running through her, because we could never keep up with her and it would be constant.
YELLIN: According to a childhood friend, juggling five kids doesn't phase her.
KRISTAN COLE, PALIN'S CHILDHOOD FRIEND: When she was mayor, or just when she was a citizen, you usually saw one child on her hip.
YELLIN: She regularly takes daughter Piper to work.
COLE: Gosh, I would say the first six months [after] she was born, she was underneath Sarah's desk at the mayor's office.
YELLIN: While the older kids help clean and run errands, her husband does his share.
COLE: When Sarah is really busy, Todd will be the one to make their breakfast, put the ponytails in.
YELLIN: But sometimes no one really does the cooking.
STAPLETON: When she's joked around about that -- oh, they can throw a sandwich together.
YELLIN: These days, the crib in the office is infant son Trig's. Friend say Palin has come to terms with the new challenge telling them-
COLE: You know, I looked at my other four children, I said, they are not perfect, and she said it allowed me to see that I'm going to love Trig just as much as I loved the other four, because they are not perfect and he's not perfect either. But I love them, and I'm going to love him, too.
YELLIN: Palin supporters insist her experience as a working mother means she'll represent American women. But some women's groups are critical. The non-partisan National Partnership for Women and Families gives Alaska a D-minus when it comes to its parental leave policy. For example, there's no guarantee of paid leave for new parents.
DR. VICKI LOVELL, INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN'S POLICY RESEARCH: I think there's a contradiction there between Governor Palin's professed values about supporting families and then what we actually see in the state of Alaska, where there aren't adequate supports for families who are welcoming new infants.
YELLIN (on-camera): John, one of the reasons that Alaska gets that D-minus is because it's possible that state -- it's possible that employees of private companies could be putting their jobs in jeopardy if they take more than 12 weeks of maternity leave. Now, defenders of Palin said she's had other priorities since she's become [sic] governor, including championing that natural gas pipeline and giving citizens money back for the windfall profits tax on oil companies. John?
ROBERTS: Jessica, of course, Governor Palin, herself, not known for taking family leave. I think she took a day after the birth of one of her children and three days after the birth of her latest one, Trig. But does she get other help, as well as the help from her husband?
YELLIN: Significant help from her husband. They also say in-laws, family friends, parents. She has a total support network. One person even said, it takes a village, a phrase more commonly associated with Hillary Clinton.
ROBERTS: I think I've heard that before. Jessica Yellin in Anchorage for us this morning. Jessica, thanks so much.

ABC's Brian Ross Highlights Angry Librarians
Opposed to Palin

Wednesday's Good Morning America featured a one-sided segment on whether Sarah Palin, as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to have some books banned from the town's library. Despite the fact that no one featured in the segment could cite a specific book, co-host Robin Roberts labeled the event "a battle that brought her toe-to-toe with a local librarian over which books were appropriate and which were not, something her critics say crossed the line into censorship." Investigative reporter Brian Ross also intoned that there are "members of the Alaska Library Association who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin."

The Ross report featured several critics, but no clips or on camera explanations by the McCain/Palin campaign. Instead, the piece focused on the 1996 uproar over certain controversial books in the Wasilla library. Then-Mayor Palin asked librarian Mary Ellen Edmonds what the process would be for removing books. The librarian was ultimately fired. However, Ross explained toward the end of the piece: "In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

While wrapping up the piece, Ross also acknowledged that so-called "lists" on the internet of books that Palin supposedly wanted banned were fraudulent: "That's not true, that long list of books that some may have seen on the internet. That's simply made up. That was not part of this discussion." He went on to explain that the Republican's question amounted to, "If people were picketing the library, would you take books off the shelf?"

Diane Sawyer added to the confusion by stating in the show open that "reports" say that Palin "once tried to ban some books from Wasilla's public library, her home town." She made that remark in the guise of separating fact from fiction. However, as already noted, most of the clarifying information that no one could name such books came at the end of the segment.

A transcript of the September 10 segment, which aired at 7:08am:

7am tease
DIANE SAWYER: And we've also been hearing the reports that Sarah Palin once tried to ban some books from Wasilla's public library, her home town. You may have heard those reports too. Well, Brian Ross decided to investigate, separate fact from fiction. We have the results this morning.

7:08am
ROBIN ROBERTS: No doubt that Sarah Palin has a huge following already. So many love her. But many want to know more about her resume, the details about her tenure as mayor and governor are still coming in to focus. And this morning we have new information on one battle she waged as mayor of Wasilla, a battle that brought her toe-to-toe with a local librarian over which books were appropriate and which were not, something her critics say crossed the line into censorship. Our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross has details. Good morning Brian.
BRIAN ROSS: Good morning, Robin. As the mayor of the town Wasilla, Sarah Palin raised the questions about removing books in the public library. And then tried to fire the town librarian. She says the two were not connected. Sarah Palin was elected the mayor of Wasilla in 1996, with the strong backing of her church, Wasilla Assembly of God.
HOWARD BESS, PASTOR, CHURCH OF THE COVENANT: It wasn't just a matter of her using the religious right to get elected. She was one of them.
ROSS: Palin has since changed churches. But Assembly of God ministers are well-known in Wasilla for taking strong positions on moral issues including this recent sermon by the current pastor.
ED KALNIN, PASTOR, WASILLA ASSEMBLY OF GOD: Everybody in the world, has a guilty conscience. That's why homosexuals want laws of the land to justify their sickness. They have a guilty conscience.
ROSS: Around the time Palin became mayor, the church and other conservative Christians began to focus on certain books available in local stores and in the town library, including one called "Go Ask Alice," and another written by a local pastor Howard Bess called "Pastor, I Am Gay."
BESS: This whole thing of controlling of, you know, controlling information, censorship, yeah, that's a part of the scene.
ROSS: Not long after taking office, Palin raised the issue at a city council meeting of how books might be banned. According to news accounts and a local resident, a Democrat, who was there.
ANNE KILKENNY, TOWN RESIDENT: Mayor Palin asked the librarian, what is your response if I ask you to remove some books from the collection of the Wasilla Public Library?
ROSS: The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Edmonds, the president of the Alaska Library Association, responded with only a short hesitation.
KILKENNY: The librarian took a deep breath and said "the books on the collection, were purchased in accordance with national standards and professional guidelines. And I would absolutely not allow you to remove any books from the collection." =
ROSS: A former town official and Palin ally says Palin's questions were only rhetorical.
FORMER WASILLA DEPUTY MAYOR JUNE PATRICK: There were no specific books that were ever banned from the city. Mayor Palin did enquire of the librarian about the policy of removing books from the library.
ROSS: A few weeks after the council meeting, the mayor fired the librarian, although she was reinstated after a community uproar.
PATRICK: You'd like to hope the elected officials understand the role of the librarian in a democracy, that is to provide access to information to everybody in the community.
ROSS: The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Edmonds, left two years later, and according to friends, because it was just too hard working for Sarah Palin. In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves. But she acknowledged her treatment by Palin had been very rough. "I just don't care to revisit that time of my life," she told me.
ROBERTS: Brian, you know there's so much out there on the internet. And much of the information is wrong. In fact, in response to your story, right there, the McCain campaign sent out this three pages to us. And they're trying to shoot down as much as they can. In fact, there was on the internet, about a list -- a long list of books. That just wasn't true.
ROSS: That's not true, that long list of books that some may have seen on the internet. That's simply made up. That was not part of this discussion. The mayor did raise the question, how to get books off the shelf. If people were picketing the library, would you take books off the shelf? The librarian was offended by that, as were members of the Alaska Library Association who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin.

MSNBC Hosts Mock and Distort Prayer Request
by Sarah Palin

Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on comments the Alaska Governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June. YouTube video of Palin: www.youtube.com

On the first episode of her new television program, the Rachel Maddow Show, the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska Governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan."

Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

And in a move that makes Olbermann look wimpy for his refusal to feature conservative guests, Maddow allowed conservative political analyst Pat Buchanan to take her on during a segment at the end of her show, during which Buchanan accused Maddow and Olbermann of "trashing" Palin's religion. As Maddow claimed that "nobody's trashing anybody's religion," Buchanan responded: "Well, you go back over the two shows we've just had."

Before being cut off by Maddow, the conservative analyst went on to point out Maddow's double standard in softpedaling Obama's association with the blatantly controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright, while treating Palin's church life more seriously. Buchanan: "This is remarkable, okay. We have the other candidate, Barack Obama, who has been, for 15 years, belonged to a church which is run by a racist anti-white, anti-American pastor, and his wife had those kids baptized by him."

At the end of his Countdown show, Olbermann brought aboard Maddow and introduced the topic of Palin's religious beliefs, focusing on her former church's teaching that prayer can cure homosexuality, and the Alaska Governor's quote from a June appearance in which she talked about the minister who prayed for her political success. Olbermann mocked prayer as he introduced a clip of Palin's words: "Perhaps the fate of the McCain/Palin campaign lies in the hands of a power much greater than America's constitutionally designated democracy. In fact, your votes may not matter at all. Your prayers, however, that's a whole different ball of wax. In our number one story on the Countdown, Sarah Palin, messenger and messiah."

Olbermann's show then played a clip of Palin's words that the Countdown host seemed to think were such a scandal. Palin: "He's praying, 'Lord, make a way, Lord, make a way.' And I'm thinking, this guy is really bold. He doesn't even know what I'm going to do. He doesn't know what my plans are. And he's praying not, 'Oh, Lord, if it be your will, may she become Governor,' whatever. No, he just prayed for it. He said, 'Lord, make a way and let her do this next step.'"

Referring to an upcoming clip of Palin talking about praying for help in getting a new oil pipeline built, Olbermann sarcastically added: "Just like voters in the presidential election. This begs the question, of course, why bother? If you want to get something done, ask the Lord. He or she probably doesn't have much else to worry about besides oil pipelines."

While claiming that Palin's religious beliefs are not the issue, Maddow went on to express worry over Palin's potential religious beliefs: "What Sarah Palin believes religiously isn't really any of our business. What she needs to be asked about, what we need to figure out whether it's worth worrying about is whether she thinks that God is directing her public policies, whether she believes in the separation of church and state, whether she believes that she has been elected to public office in order to do the will of her religion and if God is speaking through her. Then I think there's cause to worry."

Olbermann compared Palin to the notorious character Elmer Gantry from Sinclair Lewis's 1927 novel of the same name, and to a famous evangelical Christian leader from the early 20th century named Amy Semple McPherson, who was believed to have faked her own kidnapping in the 1920s: "Listening to her, and this doesn't just apply to the tape we just saw, but throughout the last, the 10 days of Sarah Palin, she's Elmer Gantry. She's Amy Semple McHockey Mom."

The Wikipedia entry on Elmer Gantry describes the character as "a young, narcissistic, womanizing college athlete who, upon realizing the power, prestige, and easy money that being an evangelical preacher can bring, pursues his 'religious' ambitions with relish, contributing to the downfall, even death, of key people around him as the years pass. Gantry continues to womanize, is often exposed as a fraud, and frequently faces a complete downfall, yet he is never fully discredited and always manages to emerge triumphant and reaching ever greater heights of social standing."

As Olbermann continued, he seemed to suggest that people who would have a favorable reaction to Palin are the kind of people whose eyes would "roll back in their heads," and who would speak in tongues: "Do we have any idea, those who will look at those tapes, whose eyes will then roll back in their heads and in tongues they will say I like this woman or this candidate, or Americans who will then shout a three-word question, beginning with 'What the-'?"

As Maddow contended that most Americans like political figures to have some religious belief as long as it is not "religious extremism," she went on to suggest Palin would not be acceptable to most Americans: "But if you believe that God is directing troop movements in Fallujah, I think that Americans, by and large, will react with the 'what the' reaction rather than the neat-o reaction to that."

Regarding the belief that prayer can convert people away from homosexuality, Maddow claimed that such beliefs inspire "hate" toward homosexuals. Maddow: "When you say that you can pray away the gay, what that does is it terrorizes gay people. And it makes people who hate gay people feel better about hating gay people, because really all they're doing is hoping for the salvation, which could so easily be achieved by just the right titrated amount of prayer."

On the premiere episode of the Rachel Maddow Show, host Maddow played a clip of Palin asking members of her former church to pray for American troops and, in her mind, discovered another religion scandal. Maddow introduced the clip: "This past June, Governor Palin, speaking at her longtime church in Wasilla, Alaska, said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq war is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D."

Palin: "Pray, for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Near the end of her show, Maddow brought aboard Buchanan to respond to her show's left-wing presentation, and the conservative political analyst accused Maddow and Olbermann of "trashing" Palin's religion, and disputed her interpretation of Palin's words:

BUCHANAN: Okay. She went to Assembly of God Church. She's a Pentecostal. I heard what she said. She said, "Let us pray that this war is part of God's plan." What is wrong with that for a woman whose 19-year-old boy is about to be sent off and may never return, that she asks for prayers? Just as Lincoln said-
MADDOW: She's not praying that the war be part of God's plan.
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes, she is.
MADDOW: She's asserting that the war is part of God's plan.
BUCHANAN: No, no. She did not say this war is God's plan. Look at it again-
MADDOW: She's asserting that God has a plan for the war just as God has a plan for the pipeline.
BUCHANAN: No, she didn't. It's just like Lincoln said, look, "Let us pray that we are on God's side." ...

BUCHANAN: Now, you go on national television and you go trashing that religion because of what they believe about the End Times-
MADDOW: Nobody's trashing anybody's religion, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Well, you go back over the two shows we've just had.

Before being cut off by Maddow, Buchanan also brought up the double standard in Maddow's lack of interest in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

BUCHANAN: You know, this is remarkable. Okay. We have the other candidate, Barack Obama, who has been, for 15 years, belonged to a church which is run by a racist anti-white, anti-American pastor, and his wife had those kids baptized by him.
MADDOW: It's bad strategy to talk about trashing religion and then come on in and bring that stuff up.
BUCHANAN: I think we can trash Reverend Wright.

CBS Highlights Dem's Anti-Palin Plea:
'We've Got to Go After Her'

While, like the rest of the media establishment, CBS's Early Show seemed to conclude that Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" crack from the day before was nothing but a harmless comment, reporter Bill Plante put the swipe in the context of Democrats' desperation to find some way to undermine the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Unlike his competitors at ABC and NBC, Plante on Wednesday highlighted how Newsweek's Howard Fineman quoted an unnamed "top Democratic strategist" as arguing about Palin: "We've got to go after her, and fast." See: www.newsweek.com

And Plante quoted from the blog WomenCount.org, which vowed to "work to stamp out sexism where we see it on the campaign trail." Online at: womencount.org

While all of the morning shows led with the "lipstick on a pig" complaint and steered the discussion to the view that the McCain campaign is thin-skinned and/or cynically calculating for raising such a spurious issue, none bothered to mention the far more absurd Democratic complaints that Republican references to Barack Obama as a "community organizer" were some sort of racist plot -- instead of quite obvious shots at Obama's lack of experience.

As for the "lipstick-pig" issue, Plante was dismissive: "John McCain used the same expression, he used it last fall when talking about Democrats' health care plan, compared it to Hillary-care back from the '90s and said that it was like putting lipstick on a pig. So that'll probably go away this time."

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For good measure, CBS brought aboard the senior editor of the liberal New Republic, Michael Crowley, who made the same point, calling Obama's remark an "unintentional, pretty harmless comment that I think the McCain campaign wants us to discuss as a gaffe." But Crowley also saw Democrats as "a little psyched out" by the prospect of running against Palin: "What this illustrates is the trouble that Palin causes for the Democratic ticket, because the Republicans are in a position to say [about] any comment like that, that's sexism, you're talking down to her, you're not showing respect to a woman. It's a really hard thing for Democrats to deal with, and you can tell they're a little psyched out by it."

Here's how CBS covered the issue, which topped their Early Show broadcast on Wednesday morning:

Show intro, 7am EDT:

HARRY SMITH: Lipstick bungle? Democrats look for openings as McCain and Palin surge in the polls, but was this a jab at the Alaskan Governor?
BARACK OBAMA: You can put lipstick on a pig. [cheers] It's still a pig.

7:01am EDT:
HARRY SMITH: Let's get right to our top story, though. Sarah Palin has helped John McCain surge in the polls. Democrats are trying to figure out how to take her on, so was Barack Obama's recent 'lipstick comment' a calculated move, or just a political bungle. CBS News seniorWhite House Correspondent Bill Plante joins us with more on that. Good morning, Bill.
BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. Well, maybe neither. But it turns out they didn't nickname her "Sarah Barracuda" for nothing. The new star of the Republican ticket has some has real bite, and that has Democrats in a dilemma: Do they go after her? Or would that backfire?
CLIP OF PALIN AT GOP CONVENTION: I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA.
PLANTE: McCain and Obama are in a statistical tie, and suddenly there's a lot of concern among Democrats: What to do? Newsweek's Howard Fineman quotes someone he calls a top Democratic strategist who says -- "we've got to go after her, and fast." [On screen graphic: "We've got to go after her, and fast"] But so far, Barack Obama's response is limited to mild sarcasm.
BARACK OBAMA AT CAMPAIGN RALLY: It's an interesting story. [hoots from audience] No, no, it is. I mean that sincerely, I mean, I think, you know, it's, you know, mother, governor, moose-shooter -- I mean, it's cool.
PLANTE: Why not tougher? For starters, almost two-thirds of the women in a CBS News poll say Palin is someone they could relate to. The blog "Women Count," which supported Hillary Clinton, was upset with suggestions that Palin might have difficulty balancing motherhood and the vice presidency. Regardless of the candidate's ideology, they wrote [words shown on screen]: "We will work to stamp out sexism where we see it on the campaign trail." And Tuesday night in Virginia, the McCain campaign thought it saw sexism when Obama charged that McCain talks change, but would continue President Bush's agenda.
OBAMA: You know, you can put lipstick on a pig. [cheers] It's still a pig.
PLANTE: McCain's newly formed Palin truth squad quickly accused Obama of comparing Palin to a pig and demanded an apology. Obama's staff called the charge pathetic. But Mike Feldman, a former Al Gore advisor, says the Democrats have to know where to draw the line.
MIKE FELDMAN, FORMER AL GORE ADVISOR: I think the Obama campaign and its surrogates have to be careful not to attack her personally. She's a very compelling and sympathetic figure.
PLANTE: Now, it's true that John McCain used the same expression, he used it last fall when talking about Democrats' health care plan, compared it to Hillary-care back from the '90s and said that it was like putting lipstick on a pig. So that'll probably go away this time, but they'll be vigilant out there. But they really don't like taking it away from their main message, Harry, which, is for Obama, that McCain means four more years of George Bush.
HARRY SMITH: There you go. Alright, thanks very much, Bill Plante.

Interview with Michael Crowley, 7:06am EDT:

HARRY SMITH: First things first, want to talk about the lipstick on a pig comment. Gaffe? Intentional? Somewhere in between? What do you think?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Unintentional, pretty harmless comment that I think the McCain campaign wants us to discuss as a gaffe. I really think that Obama was not talking or thinking about Palin, but what this illustrates is the trouble that Palin causes for the Democratic ticket, because the Republicans are in a position to say [about] any comment like that, that's sexism, you're talking down to her, you're not showing respect to a woman. It's a really hard thing for Democrats to deal with, and you can tell they're a little psyched out by it. We'll see whether or not it works in the short term. I actually think it is working a little bit for the Republicans, to to Obama's dismay.
SMITH: There you go. She literally is the proverbial third rail. You touch it, you're going to get shocked.
CROWLEY: I think that's one reason they picked her. They knew they were going to be able to do that.

Also, I think Smith meant that Palin was "figuratively" the third rail, not "literally," although that's what he said. If she were an actual rail, she would presumably have somewhat less appeal to white working class women voters.

NYT's Herbert: "Arch-Conservative" Clarence
Thomas' "Self-Hatred"

Comparatively mild-mannered columnist Bob Herbert lets the mask slip: "Self-hatred is a terrible thing. Just ask that arch-conservative Clarence Thomas." What's gotten into the Times' normally mild-mannered, paleo-liberal columnist Bob Herbert? The former NBC News reporter doesn't usually get too hyperbolic in his twice-weekly columns, which is why TimesWatch more often cites the spikier leftist columnists like Paul Krugman and Frank Rich -- plus Herbert's soporofic style makes one reluctant to read on.

But Herbert sounded more than a little peeved in his spirited Tuesday column in defense of paleo-liberalism, "Hold Your Heads Up," arguing that liberalism not only is responsible for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and other non-white males having the ability to run for President, but for civil rights, women's rights, clean water...all manner of good things. Fair commentary, if utterly simplistic -- but Herbert overstepped by calling the right wing "troglodytes" and did so in starkly personal terms in his conclusion, sliming conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a "self-hater," playing into the racial stereotype that one must be a Democrat to be truly black.

[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from Herbert's September 9 column:

Ignorance must really be bliss. How else, over so many years, could the G.O.P. get away with ridiculing all things liberal?

Troglodytes on the right are no respecters of reality. They say the most absurd things and hardly anyone calls them on it. Evolution? Don't you believe it. Global warming? A figment of the liberal imagination.

Liberals have been so cowed by the pummeling they've taken from the right that they've tried to shed their own identity, calling themselves everything but liberal and hoping to pass conservative muster by presenting themselves as hyper-religious and lifelong lovers of rifles, handguns, whatever.

So there was Hillary Clinton, of all people, sponsoring legislation to ban flag-burning; and Barack Obama, who once opposed the death penalty, morphing into someone who not only supports it, but supports it in cases that don't even involve a homicide.

....

Without the extraordinary contribution of liberals -- from the mightiest presidents to the most unheralded protesters and organizers -- the United States would be a much, much worse place than it is today.

There would be absolutely no chance that a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin could make a credible run for the highest offices in the land. Conservatives would never have allowed it.

Civil rights? Women's rights? Liberals went to the mat for them time and again against ugly, vicious and sometimes murderous opposition. They should be forever proud.

SUSPEND Excerpt

Herbert read off the laundry list of wonderful liberal accomplishments like food stamps, clean water and Head Start all of which he has no doubt provide services only the federal bureaucracy is capable of providing, then paused for breath before getting nasty:

It would take volumes to adequately cover the enhancements to the quality of American lives and the greatness of American society that have been wrought by people whose politics were unabashedly liberal. It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned.

Self-hatred is a terrible thing. Just ask that arch-conservative Clarence Thomas.

Liberals need to get over it.

END of Excerpt

For Herbert's column in full: www.nytimes.com

Couric Uses Sex Scandal to Show Bush
Admin 'Close' to Big Oil

CBS's Katie Couric on Wednesday night used an Interior Department sex and drug scandal to snidely frame a story around how "the Bush administration has long been accused of having too close a relationship with the oil industry. Just how close is documented in new reports just out today." The ABC and NBC evening newscasts also ran full stories on three new reports from the Interior Department's inspector general about the staffers of the Minerals Management Service, mostly in Colorado, but refrained from the overtly political characterization.

Turning to reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Couric opined: "This sounds pretty embarrassing." Attkisson agreed as she immediately brought President Bush into the story: "It is, Katie. The investigative reports were released a day after President Bush had a private lunch with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the man in charge of the agency at the heart of the scandal. That was behind closed doors. Today's embarrassment was very public."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

From the September 10 WashingtonPost.com story, "Interior Dept. Officials Embroiled in Energy Ethics Scandal," it does not appear many of those involved were political appointees. That story summarized: "Government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted lavish gifts, steered contracts to favored firms and engaged in illicit sex with employees of the energy companies, federal investigators reported today." See: www.washingtonpost.com

In contrast, on ABC's World News, the set up from Charles Gibson stuck to the facts without bringing in pejorative characterizations: "Federal investigators released a stinging report today that finds government employees, who were supposed to oversee the oil industry, were sleeping with energy company workers, doing drugs with them and accepting gifts from them. The report from the Interior Department's inspector general concludes there was a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity involving some Interior Department workers. Here's ABC's Lisa Stark."

Brian Williams, on the NBC Nightly News, also refrained from using the news for a cheap political hit: "Now to a brewing scandal that has just late today been revealed involving the U.S. Department of the Interior, the cabinet agency responsible for this nation's public lands. The agency's inspector general found some employees in a totally dysfunctional environment, allegedly doing things including accepting gifts from oil companies, engaging in rampant substance abuse and sexual misconduct and steering contracts to friends. The story tonight from NBC's Tom Costello."

-- Brent Baker